It’s been a difficult week. But one of the highlights was on Thursday, when a friend and I went into Prospect Park in the late afternoon. Just before sunset, we were in the Nethermead. Overhead, the chittering of many Chimney Swifts was heard as the little birds darted all over the sky taking their last meals of the day. And then suddenly, nighthawks! Chordeiles minor are much larger than swifts, with long pointy wings and long tails, making them look somewhat falcon-like. But their fast, loopy, erratic flight is all their own. I counted seven at once, whirling through the air as they gobbled after insects in the aether. Another group of birders counted twice that many over time. These photos are mediocre, but hopefully hint at the setting sun’s under-lighting of the russety undersides of the birds, and their distinctive wing patch-stripes.They are on the move now, to their wintering grounds in South America.
A quintessential summer evening bird, this is a species in decline. It’s one of the species mentioned in this excellent op-ed by the head of the Cornell Lab. A must-read.